Stress, subjective wellbeing and self-knowledge in higher education teachers: A pilot study through bodyfulness approaches


Work-related stress is a major cause of health problems worldwide. Faculty in educational institutions, including universities, also face high levels of stress, which undoubtedly affects their performance, level of personal satisfaction and wellbeing, and the relationship with students. Training interventions based on embodied learning can promote self-knowledge, emotional regulation and stress reduction, thereby increasing levels of psychological well-being. The present pilot study analyzed the impact of body awareness training in 31 university teachers using a controlled, randomized pre-post experimental design, with two experimental groups and a control group (n = 10). The two interventions were: Hatha Yoga (n = 11) and Dance Movement Therapy/Body Mind Centering (n = 10), which we have termed Body Movement Awareness. Variables related to body awareness, mindfulness, wellbeing, life satisfaction and stress were measured using self-perception tests. Cortisol levels, heart rate variability and sleep quality were also analyzed. Finally, participants’ reflections were analyzed according to a qualitative approach. The results showed significant differences between the control group and the Hatha Yoga group in terms of stress reduction and wellbeing. The Body Movement Awareness group exhibited evidence of contributions on self-knowledge, communication and kinesthetic empathy, key elements in the educational field. Despite the inherent limitations of the study, the conclusions are encouraging and open new lines of research from embodied approaches that introduce creative movement and group experience as part of the process of emotional regulation and self-knowledge.

Aims of research

Evaluate the impact of training interventions based on embodied learning for stress reduction and wellbeing.
To analyze the effect of bodyfulness approaches in self knowledge and self awareness.

Principal research question(s)

How the different embodied approaches could contribute to the wellbeing, stress reduction and self knowledge in higher education?
Where are the differences between Hatha Yoga and Dance Movement Therapy in this context?

Principal findings

Quantitative analysis:
Significant differences in variables as body awareness, wellbeing and stress reduction after the two programs: Hatha Yoga and Body Movement Awareness (based on Dance Movement Therapy).
Significant changes in the ratio LF/HF (heart variability).
Qualitative analysis shows increase in the self knowledge and self awareness in the Dance Movement Therapy program regarding the Hatha Yoga.

Client group
Higher education teachers
Nature of data collection
Psychometric test, physiological measurements and reflexive diaries
Ethical board approving research
Ethics Committee of Medicine Research of the Community of Madrid (CEIM-R; EC13.17) Ethics Committee of the Universidad Europea de Madrid (UEM2017-27).
Research design
mixed methods
Registered Academic Institution
Universidad Europea of Madrid
Academic level of research
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